Browsing the archives for the History tag.

Not amused

Culture, European culture(s), International Politics, Politics
Sweatshirt I bought @ Target, writes Flickr user Eshm (photo used under CC license)

"Sweatshirt I bought @ Target," Flickr user Eshm (photo used under CC license)

Living in the Netherlands, ca. 1998, meant increasingly being confronted, not just with that ubiquitous icon of wannabe rebel teenager identity, the drearily mass produced Che tee, but training jackets and the like saying DDR, or CCCP. Not because there was any suddenly resurging affinity for the former Eastern Bloc regimes, but because those were the thing to have for any self-respecting ironic hipster.

It went with, say, nodding your head to the latest abstract beats, or dancing to the soundtrack of a soft lesbo porn movie from the seventies with a knowing smile. Aren’t we being cool!

I never got it. Stunned at the baffling lack of … awareness, I suppose. Even if I knew that no disrespect was intended toward, say, the victims of communism — all was tongue-in-cheek, after all! The postmodern game being played out transformed me, instantly, into an old crank. It did so right at the moment that I refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of that irony; the moment I failed to think, “oh that’s OK then”.

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Election night toolkit: data and resources

Congressional Elections, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
  • An Observer’s Guide to Election Night, by our own JoefromChicago. There are 435 congressional races, 35 senate races, and 11 gubernatorial contests today, Joe points out, and “these races merit attention in their own right, but they also may be early indicators of the way the presidential race will turn out”. A convenient list of the races you should be paying attention to as you watch the presidential results come in, ordered by time of night.

     

  • Swing State Project: Poll closing times & Key races, by DavidNYC. Very handy country map with the poll closing times, and a list of key House, Senate, gubernatorial and state legislative races, arranged by poll closing times (linked in is also a list of key ballot measures).

     

  • The American Prospect 2008 Election Night Guide. Comprehensive guide, encompassing six sections, among which an overview of key swing state counties, a list of Senate races that would pave the way to a utopian 60 Dems, a review of bellwether House races, and a number of ballot initiatives to watch.

     

  • US Election Atlas, by Dave Leip. A long-standing, invaluable elections resource. Browse the results of previous elections going back to 1789 (no, really). Not just by state – results by individual county are available back to 1960.

     

  • Google Maps Historical Election Results, going back to 1980. Click or zoom into a state or county – the map will show you the winner and moreover, with a click of the mouse you get both the electoral breakdown and basic demographic data (income, age, race/ethnicity). Click on the National Almanac map, which should show up on the right, and you can find additional demographic info on language and occupation by state or group of states. The Google Maps historical election results tool should also be available on Google Earth (h/t Marc Ambinder).

     

  • Census 2000 Interactive map. Zoom in on states and counties to find demographical data on population density, racial composition and black or hispanic population.

     

  • Ancestries by state, tables derives from the US Census Bureau’s American FactFinder. OK, so only very tangentially relevant, but very interesting. (Keep an eye on those Hillary-loving people of “United States American” – i.e., non-ethnic – ancestry in the Appalachians and the Border South, which are very unlikely to go Obama.)

     

  • Cleveland Plain Dealer Data Central, for all your political data from the state of Ohio. Aside from the interactive map of county-level results back to 1960, which overlaps with the above resources, there’s an interactive map that breaks down the voter registration and demographics on both congressional district, county and ZIPcode level. And a map and table showing how voter registration has gone up or down since 2004 by county. And a useful explanation, with map, of how Ohio may be a swing state, but inside Ohio there really are but a dozen of swing counties.

     

  • Counties to watch according to Marc Ambinder in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada and Colorado and in Florida, Virginia, Ohio.
     
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Obama’s polling compared to Kerry’s, Gore’s and Clinton’s – final day update

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

My comparison from a week and a half ago of how Obama’s polling numbers match up with Kerry’s polling in 2004, Gore’s in 2000 and Clinton’s in 1996 has surprisingly become the most visited page on this blog since. Considering the interest, I thought it would be good to provide a last-day update on how the comparison is shaping up at the end of the campaign.

There are four daily tracking polls this year that also conducted daily tracking polls in either 2000 or 2004 or both. The comparison between the races shapes up differently depending on which pollster’s numbers you look at. The best known is Gallup, and this graph compares Obama’s performance versus McCain in the Gallup poll with Kerry’s, Gore’s and Clinton’s performance against their Republican opponents:

Gallup polling: Obama vs McCain in 08 compared with Kerrys, Gores and Clintons polling

Looking good indeed; the 11-point lead Gallup showed for Obama in its final presidential estimate last night is on par with its election-day polling lead for Bill Clinton in ’96. While Clinton’s ample lead gradually eroded over the course of the last two weeks of campaigning, Obama’s held steady. Quite the difference with the nailbiters the last Gallup polls out predicted for the 2000 and 2004 races.

TIPP is a polling firm you may not have heard of; it has conducted a daily tracking poll for the Investors Business Daily this year, and for IBD and the Christian Science Monitor in earlier years. Of the seven tracking polls that were conducted on a daily basis in the last two weeks, this poll has tended to show the smallest Obama leads of all. When McCain’s chief strategist Steve Schmidt asserted, two weeks ago, that “the McCain campaign is roughly in the position where Vice President Gore was running against President Bush,” the TIPP poll was the only poll that confirmed his assertion.

Today, however, brings good news for Obama supporters: after oscillating between a 1-point and 5-point lead for Obama for two weeks, TIPP published a final estimate last night that had Obama leading by 7.2%. And that makes the comparison over the years look like this:

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McCain 2008 = Gore 2000? Matching the numbers from Gallup, ABC, TIPP and Zogby

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

A fair bit of attention has been paid in the blogs today to the assertion of McCain’s chief strategist Steve Schmidt that “The McCain campaign is roughly in the position where Vice President Gore was running against President Bush one week before the election of 2000.” It’s met a good dose of scepticism. The WaPo drily annotated the quote as follows:

McCain’s team dismisses the most dire polls — those showing the race nationally with a double-digit lead for Obama. Advisers believe the contest’s margin is in the five-to-seven-point range, about the same deficit, they say, that then-Vice President Al Gore faced at this time eight years ago against then-Gov. George W. Bush. (A Washington Post poll at the same point in the 2000 race showed a tie.)

NBC’s First Read similarly remarked:

[T]he NBC/WSJ poll right before the election found Bush ahead by three among likely voters (47%-44%). But our most recent poll shows Obama up [..] 11 points among likely voters (53%-42%).

In addition, Marc Ambinder points out that the margins are “way different” state-by-state: “Obama’s doing much better in 2008 than Al Gore was in 2000 in the battleground states.”

Now I had a graph up here a week or two ago charting how Obama’s current Gallup numbers compare with the lead or deficit that Kerry, Gore and Clinton faced in the previous three presidential elections. In the days since, Googlers have found this site through at least 27 permutations of searches involving some combination around Gore, Bush, polls, October, historical, 2000, elections, tracking and Gallup. So this is a good occasion to update that post and expand it, not just looking at the Gallup numbers but also those from the ABC, Zogby and TIPP daily tracking polls from 2000, 2004 and 2008.

First off, that chart from last time, based on the Gallup polling numbers from the last four elections. Here’s the update:

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Should Obama backers check themselves?

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

With Obama riding high in the polls, comparisons between John McCain and Bob Dole are gaining ever more currency. Former Hillary campaign flack Howard Wolfson has gone as far as declaring it’s over:

Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can’t afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can’t say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn’t going to save John McCain. The race is over.

Last Saturday, Wolfson went as far as penning a “premortem for the McCain campaign“, and was promptly criticized for it by ABC News’ Jake Tapper. On his blog, Tapper warned Obama backers to “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself“:

Buoyed by encouraging poll numbers [..] lots of Obama backers out there seem to think this thing is over. [But that’s] not what lots of smart folks in the Obama campaign think. They believe Obama’s poll numbers are artificially high, McCain’s are artificially low, this race will come down to two or three points, and anything could happen.

As Anne Kornblut and Jon Cohen in the Washington Post today remind us, “recent history suggests that mid-October leads are vulnerable […]”.

Is Tapper right? Should we check ourselves before rejoicing too early, only to find ourselves flat-footed when the numbers unavoidably narrow again? That’s always a piece of advice that’s close to my heart, but it bears mentioning that Tapper cherry-picks his data to make the point.

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Nervous about Nixon Goldwater McCain?

Media / journalism, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Alex Massie at The Debatable Land has been digging through the video archives of the Museum of the Moving Image at The Living Room Candidate. It’s a website devoted to historical campaign commercials, and “contains more than 300 commercials, from every presidential election since 1952.” And he’s come up with some true gems.

There’s classics like the relentlessly cheerful, ferociously flirty lounge singer doing her thing for Adlai Stevenson: “I love the Gov!“. (Sarah Palin didn’t invent the polit-power of the wink, you know.) There’s a bit of scare-mongering anno 1992 that made Massie quip, “Verily, Arkansas is a land visited by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. There’s a Barry Goldwater ad that starts off with 30 seconds of cult mayhem that would suit the best of Russ Meyer movie trailers; any moment you expect a warning about She-Devils on Wheels.

A strong contender for the most amazing find is the surprisingly psychedelic, hippie-go-lucky sing-a-long “Nixon Now” from 1972. An eerie illustration of the ad world’s reality inversion … catchy, though. (Weirdly enough, Nixonnow.com now is the website of a watch brand.) That one is overwhelmed still in the cutesy stakes by “the jaunty music and the fab 70s kitsch” of a Ford commercial from four years later – and much of it could have been a seventies ad for the car brand. (Bonus feel-good points for the unabashed inclusion of sundry happy ugly people: no shame of the natural back then! It’s like walking into a remote Slovak village.)

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of relativation, too. You thought Hillary’s 3 AM ad was an outrageous bit of scare-mongering? Ha! Nixon would have shown her a thing or two. You think McCain’s panders to evangelical America are worrying? Carter offered the real thing. Imagine the outcry if Republicans would air ads like those today.

But two of the ads Massie dug up stand out. Two videos that evoke distant eras, and yet are as topical as ever before. In fact, the Obama campaign could run touched up versions of them right now.

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Worst. President. Ever.

Politics, US Politics

Two items in today’s New York Times:

second-worst two-term president

U.S. Grant: upgraded to second-worst two-term president

The CBS News poll found that President Bush had tied the presidential record for a low approval rating — 22 percent, matching Harry S. Truman’s Gallup approval rating in 1952, when the country was mired in the Korean War and struggling with a stagnant economy.

And Timothy Egan:

In a survey of scholars done earlier this year, just two of 109 historians said the Bush presidency would be judged a success. A majority said he would be the worst president ever.

Well, at least with respect to the historical community, Bush has fulfilled his promise to be a “uniter, not a divider.” To appreciate the scale of his achievement, though, we really need to look at the competition.

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